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Unlocking the Potential: Global Leaders Commit to Triple Nuclear Energy Capacity by 2050 at COP28





In an unprecedented move amidst the 28th Conference of the Parties (COP28), world leaders gathered at the Rove Hotel in Dubai to endorse the "Declaration to Triple Nuclear Energy Capacity by 2050." This groundbreaking commitment was supported by the Heads of State of nine countries and garnered endorsement from a total of 21 nations, including Canada, the Czech Republic, Ghana, Finland, Hungary, Japan, Moldova, Mongolia, Morocco, the Netherlands, Poland, South Korea, Romania, Slovakia, Slovenia, Ukraine, the United Arab Emirates, the United States, and the United Kingdom.


The declaration marks a pivotal moment in the global effort to transition to net zero, underscoring the importance of nuclear energy as a clean and reliable source. The signatories emphasized the urgent need to accelerate the development of nuclear energy to fulfill diverse energy needs, including clean electrons, molecules (such as steam and hydrogen), and process heat, crucial for achieving ambitious climate goals.


The COP28 ceremony served as a platform for international dignitaries and industry leaders to discuss actions necessary to mitigate climate change and maintain global temperatures within 1.5 degrees of pre-industrial levels. With global energy systems responsible for approximately 70% of total carbon emissions and power production contributing almost 30% of total emissions, decarbonizing electricity, heating, industrial processes, and transportation becomes a crucial driver in reducing global emissions.


The declaration recognizes nuclear energy as a key player in achieving global net-zero greenhouse gas emissions. It acknowledges nuclear power as the second-largest source of clean, dispatchable baseload power globally and the primary source of clean electricity for Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) nations. Expert analyses from the OECD Nuclear Energy Agency, the World Nuclear Association, the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, and the International Energy Agency (IEA) have consistently emphasized the need for a significant expansion of nuclear energy capacity to meet emissions reduction goals.


Encouraging partnerships, commitments, and innovations from additional governments and financial organizations, including the World Bank, the declaration aims to unleash the political will and resources required for the proposed expansion. Government representatives and leaders participating in the declaration ceremony included President Emmanuel Macron of France, Prime Minister Ulf Kristersson of Sweden, Prime Minister Alexander De Croo of Belgium, President Rumen Radev of Bulgaria, President Klaus Iohannis of Romania, President Andrzej Duda of Poland, and Prime Minister Petr Fiala of the Czech Republic, among others.


Suhail Al Mazrouei, the Minister of Energy and Infrastructure of the UAE, highlighted the significance of nuclear energy as a clean and stable baseload energy source. He emphasized the UAE's commitment to nuclear energy, citing the decision made in 2009, and the subsequent efforts to decarbonize energy-intensive and heavy industry across the country. Al Mazrouei stressed the importance of nuclear energy as part of a balanced energy portfolio and expressed the UAE's commitment to working with other countries to demonstrate the safe and sustainable delivery of nuclear energy.


The UAE has emerged as a leader in the global clean energy transition, adding the most clean electricity per capita over the past five years. Significantly, 75% of this clean electricity has been generated through nuclear energy. The Barakah Nuclear Energy Plant in Abu Dhabi, operational since 2021, has played a pivotal role, commencing commercial operations of its first unit and adding 10TWh of electricity to the grid each year. The completion of Unit 4 is scheduled for 2024.


Mohamed Al Hammadi, the Managing Director and CEO of the Emirates Nuclear Energy Corporation, highlighted the symbolic importance of the declaration in the context of achieving Net Zero by 2050. He stressed that the declaration brings a message of hope to young people, counting on leaders to make the right decisions today to accelerate the decarbonization of energy systems. Al Hammadi applauded the collaborative effort, with 22 nations gathering in the UAE to launch the declaration, sending a clear message that nuclear energy is a substantial part of the solution and should be supported alongside other clean sources.


The declaration not only underscores the commitment of nations to harness the potential of nuclear energy but also acknowledges the industry's surging progress through innovation in clean electron and molecule generation. By decarbonizing the grid, the signatories aim to expedite the decarbonization of hard-to-abate sectors.

The UAE's incorporation of nuclear energy into its energy portfolio is a testament to the nation's strategy to create a secure and sustainable energy mix, aligning with its net-zero economy objectives. The declaration sets the stage for a collaborative, international effort to embrace nuclear energy as a crucial element in achieving a sustainable, low-carbon future. As global leaders join forces, the declaration represents a firm commitment to unlocking the potential of nuclear energy in the pursuit of a more sustainable and environmentally responsible world.

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